CQ Mumbai conducts eyeball meeting in Thane, over 80 HAMs attend the event. Wednesday, September 17, 2014: When the subject is HAM radio and the day is Sunday, HAMs do not need anything more to motivate them. This spirit was demonstrated in plenty this Sunday, 14 September at Thane, when HAMs of different age groups came together for an eyeball meeting at Govindmani Hall near Upvan Lake in Thane.
The event was attended by over 88 HAMs from Lodhivali, Mumbai, Nashik, Pune and Thane. While Mumbai and Thane HAMs formed a majority at the event, six enthusiastic practitioners of HAM radio from Nasik, seven from Pune and two from Lodhivali also travelled all the way to be part of the event. The oldest HAM from Mumbai, Sreeni (89) who lives in Bandra and is known by the call sign VU2PDN, also participated whole-heartedly at the event. He was seen networking throughout the period of the show. Just like we are known by our names, HAMs are known by their respective callsigns – which is the identity given to them by the Department of Telecommunications, Wireless Planning and Coordination (WPC) wing. While communicating on the radio, and on air, as per regulations, only HAMs who have a valid callsign are allowed to talk to another HAM who is a valid callsign holder. New HAMs, who are just entering into the hobby, have to undertake a short training that is conducted by many HAM radio clubs in the country. Candidates then have to appear for a written and practical examination conducted by the WPC. Those who manage to clear both written and practical examination are awarded callsigns, which is a license to operate on amateur radio frequency designated by the Government. Government of India allows amateur radio communication on different frequencies such as 144-146MHz and 1800-2000 kHz among others. While most HAMs practice the hobby in the comforts of their homes, there are many outdoor events both leisurely and competitive conducted by Amateur Radio Society of India (ARSI), National Institute of Amateur Radio (NIAR) – two institutions that promote and represent Indians practising the hobby at various national and international platforms. Many informal activities are also conducted by local clubs in various cities like Mumbai, Nashik, Pune and Thane to bring together people practising the hobby. At the CQ meet conducted in Thane, HAM Deepak Pathak, who’s callsign is VU2CDP, gave a detailed presentation about the DX expedition. DX expedition is a competitive event, where a group of HAMs goto different remote islands across the world and setup radio communication infrastructure for few days or a month. The DX competition is an extremely sought after initiative, because HAMs across the world are keen to have as many remote islands as possible on their call logs. Entry to many remote islands across the world are restricted by the Government of those countries citing security reasons. However when a group of HAMs decide to chase a DX expedition, they make sure they complete it. Deepak took all the participants at the event through the trials, tribulations and finally triumphs of their DX expedition to Agatti, Lakshwadeep in 2013. Complete step-by-step details of the expedition can be read on this website. After lunch, the discussion at the CQ meet turned to discussing home-brewing and the hardware part of the hobby. Mahesh Vhatkar, who has the callsign VU2IIA, led the discussion and he was assisted by Ajay Gupta, who’s callsign is VU2DED. He spoke at length about an interesting experiment he had conducted on digital transmitters. HAMs Charudatt, VU2UPX and Cryil VU2AY, had brought along many of their home brewed electronic items to demonstrate to the attendees. Home brewing means, where HAMs make various components of the radio and other related equipments at home – a la DIY, do-it-yourself. HAM Ashok Joshi, VU2ASH also spoke at length about different aspects of home-brewing at the event. While the sessions were in progress, some HAMs were seen enthusiastically meeting and exchanging QSL cards – a card that confirms communication between two HAMs. Although the event formally ended at 4 pm, the crowd lingered on and discussions went on for a long time after the event was over. While everyone thinks social media is a recent phenomenon, HAM radio has been a social network that has been in existence since the early 20th century, And it is among one of the most specialized as well as fun hobbies around. Preethi Chamikutti